A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Cycle of Sickness

Don't Let Sickness Sabotage Your Work - NARA -...

Don't Let Sickness Sabotage Your Work - NARA - 534139 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       Maybe my body has been conditioned to succumb to illness every year about this time.  It's difficult to get used to, but I've come to expect a bout of illness every January.  Sorry for the pun, but I'm getting sick of it.   The two or three week set back of illness to start the year off is frustrating to say the least and probably a reminder that I'm just getting older so I'd better get used to it.  At least that's what my doctor would have me believe.  And she's probably right.

       Looking back to a post from last January, I see I was writing about the same issue.  I don't want to make a habit of writing about this same topic on an annual basis.  Pretty soon I'm going to have enough material to write a book about being sick.  That sounds depressing enough to me so I hope I can avoid that book.

        I hope you are staying well and able to keep up with life as you would like to be doing.   This year's bout of illness has been hanging on with me much longer that I remember dealing with in previous years.   I've got things to do, places to go, and people I want to see.  I've also got a lot to write about so I need to get my body vigorous and my mind in the right frame of existence.

       At least I've been catching up on sleep, but quite frankly I'm sick of sleeping.  No--let me rephrase that.  I'm sleeping because I'm sick.   I'm sick of being sick and I don't know how else to say it.  Actually I could say it in many ways.  In doing so I could become the Elizabeth Barrett Browning of sickness.  Oh, woe!  Such a sorrowful thought!  Let it never come to that.

       Are you able to write much when you don't feel well physically?    Does your body seem to have developed a cycle of sickness?     Do you ever get tired of sleeping?
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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Coping With Unexpected Emotions When Writing Painful Memoirs

        Dealing with difficult past events can stir up painful memories as we relive them in writing a memoir.  My guest today is Lorraine Reguly.  In the following post she discusses her experience in facing the pain that can sometimes be encountered when reviving our past and offers some helpful suggestions to deal with these emotions.

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 (Photo credit: Hayley Bouchard)
      Memoir writing is not all it’s cracked up to be. Writing about enjoyable moments is definitely fun and easy, but writing about painful memoirs and past experiences is very hard to do. I know. I’m currently doing it, and I’m having a tough time.

       Maybe you can relate, if you’ve reached a standstill in your writing or have set your memoirs aside . . . and left them there.

 Today I’m here to tell you a bit of my story and to help you learn how to deal with any pain you may be experiencing. 

       The reason I’m having such a hard time is not due to a lack of planning, but to the unexpected emotional turbulence that comes with writing about painful experiences.

        You see, I was raped when I was a virgin. I was fourteen, then. It devastated me, and my life took off in a different direction. I ended up quitting high school four times. I also had a baby when I was a teenager, and became a single mom. My son is now 23; I’m 42.

       Although I graduated from university and became a high school Math and English teacher, I partook in several other activities that were detrimental to my emotional health. I became a prostitute after being promiscuous for years. I did drugs, gambled, stole, and tried killing myself. Yes, I was a mess.

       I’ve been physically and mentally abused, and have abused myself.

       In short, I’ve been through hell.

       Judge me if you will; I don’t care. But know this: I am not a bad person.

       In fact, I have many wonderful qualities and am highly skilled.

       I’ve also had several health issues and was in an accident that nearly cost me my right leg.

       Last year, I nearly died when my appendix burst. This event served as the wake-up call I needed, and the ensuing events have changed my life in a positive, dramatic way.

       I re-connected with my son. Without going into too much detail here, I’ll simply invite you to read How Re-Uniting With My Son Impacted My Life. It’s quite the story!

      When I started my memoirs, I was hyped up and had lofty goals. My original plan was to write a bit each day. This plan didn’t work for me and so I revised it, deciding to write each week. Then that plan didn’t work, either, because when I started writing, I wrote about the negative stuff that’s happened to me and didn’t balance it with the positive.

     I ended up re-living certain things in my mind and bringing my past baggage to the surface; baggage I thought I had already dealt with. As it turns out, closure is a myth. For me, anyway.

      I also tried writing when I was inspired to do so. This worked well for a while but then I stopped getting inspired. It became easier to write about other things, or not write at all. Writing blog posts became my priority because they were less painful to handle. Coping was not an issue when I wrote about non-personal things. But I stopped reaching my readers – they wanted to hear my true stories!

      My blog theme emerged: True Tales Tuesdays and Featured Fridays. On Tuesdays, I satisfy my loyal readers (who I now consider my friends!) and on Fridays, I satisfy myself, other writers and authors, and hundreds of other people with my various topics including guest posts, author interviews, book giveaways, social media articles, and blogging tips. My blog has become more popular as a result. But it is still very little. I actually like the intimacy it offers; it is now my safe haven.

      In October, I told myself I would work more diligently toward my writing goals in November, and I did – to a point. But then I ended up accepting a blogging award in which I outed my rapist. This was the hardest thing I have had to write – ever. I had previously touched upon this topic when I wrote my blog post about Writing Is Therapeutic and Helped Me Cope With Being Raped but I was not prepared for the tumultuous uproar of panic, hatred and confusion I experienced when I found out my rapist was online. (Side note – I have only owned a laptop since January of this year.)

      Since I, like many bloggers, schedule my posts, I had a couple of weeks to wait until it was published before I finally felt emotionally better. The support that I received from my regular group of readers was amazing and helped me in more ways than I ever thought possible.

       I was not judged; I was loved. I was not hated; I was congratulated. I was not ridiculed or belittled; I was made to feel ten feet tall.

      You may think me brave for speaking out so bluntly. Yes, I was scared. I was terrified, in fact. Actually, I still am, sometimes. But what I have learned is this: I have to follow my heart. If it feels right, I do it. So should you. Write it, whatever it is that you’re holding back. Shout it from the rooftops. Make your voice heard. You won’t regret it, even if is painful and makes you cry.

      Trust me; I know. I’ve been there.

      I’m still there, but now I have a plan in place that will help me achieve my goals.

     No one said writing was easy. Writing painful memoirs is even tougher, which brings me to the tips I have for you, for when you are struggling.


 Get a support system in place. Find people you can talk to, who will support and encourage you.

 Cry. Cry. Then cry some more. It’s good for the soul.

 Allow yourself some self-pity. You’ve been through a lot. Don’t expect to be “over it” immediately. Accept that your past is a part of who you are. Don’t fight it; embrace it.

 Recognize that only you can tell your story from your point of view. No one else can. No one else has had your unique experience. No one else is YOU. You have a lot to offer even though you may not realize it.

 Love and nurture your inner child. He/she dwells within all of us and if he/she didn’t get what he/she needed as a child/teen/young adult, then give it to him/her NOW. Let your past self connect with your present self.

 Don’t isolate yourself. If you live alone, go out for a walk. Go to the mall. Take yourself out for dinner. Take in a movie. Go be around people, even if you prefer being alone.

 Get out of the house and socialize. Phone a friend. Go for coffee. For crying out loud, do something!

 Identify your emotional triggers. Write down your feelings on a piece of paper and why you think you are experiencing them.

Journal. Yes, this is more writing, but it will help you down the road. You’ll be able to look at things from a different perspective days, weeks, months and even years later. Journal-keeping is often therapeutic.

Take a day or two off. Allow yourself some space to heal. Healing takes time. You may never heal completely, and your scars will always be with you, but you can stop the bleeding.

Commiserate with me. I don’t judge and I’m always happy to meet new people, share experiences, and make new friends.

Above all else, don’t stop writing. You’ll hate yourself for it, if that’s one of your goals. For an extra boost, read Why You Should Take a Chance on Your Memoir Project and Don’t Avoid Painful Writing! If you are simply having trouble sticking to your writing goals, you may find this article helpful: Overcome Writing Failure With a Personalized Writing Plan. Did anything in this post make you have an “aha” moment? What tips make the most sense to you? Do you have tips you’d like to add? I’m anxious to hear your thoughts in the comment section, and I promise I will reply to every one…so please don’t be shy…please say “hi” to me and share your thoughts!

About the author:
picture017 (3)  Lorraine Reguly is writer, teacher, editor, poet and blogger who loves connecting with others as much as she loves writing. Join her each week on her blog, Lorraine Reguly's Life, for her True Tales Tuesdays and Featured Fridays posts.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fly By Town

Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry (Photo credit: cliff1066™)
       I won't say that I was lost.  I didn't know exactly where I was, but I basically knew where I was going.  I had taken a wrong turn and didn't particularly want to stop to consult the map.  The road I was on would eventually come to a main road that I recognized.  I was pretty sure of that.   Most roads go somewhere and that somewhere will usually provide more options.    You can never get really lost forever on highways.  For a short while maybe, but not forever.

         Winding through mountains in West Virginia, then Virginia, then back and forth again, I was enjoying the beauty of the place yet I was anxious to get back to the main highway.  We had a ways to go and I wanted to get to our motel in Lexington, Virginia before it got dark.

         As we came out of a particularly curvy mountainous area, we emerged into a small community.  I wouldn't quite call it a town because I didn't see anything besides houses.  There were quite a number of these houses.  Houses that struck me as being somewhat large looking two story houses, similar in design and relatively old.  Houses built before 1950--maybe even pre-war.  The community looked neat, but poor.  And odd.  

        The place was eerie odd like something seen in a dream.  In retrospect I almost wished I had stopped, or at least paid more attention.   At the time I was more concerned about finding a main highway and I did after passing the eerie odd community.

         For the rest of the drive that day my mind kept going back to the place on the road that I had flown by.  I felt haunted.  That evening in the motel I looked on my computer to find out where it was that we had passed through.  Nothing.   I could not figure out what that place had been.

        Several weeks later after more careful researching with the help of Google Maps and Google Search, I figured out what place we had flown by.   Bishop, Virginia and Bishop, West Virginia was the town.  A place divided due to having been  built on the border of two states.

          Bishop is an old coal mining town--something I had surmised as we drove past.  I mentioned that to my wife and now it was confirmed for me.  Now with mines closed, Bishop is just part of the Appalachian poverty region.   What was a fly by town to me is a place where a goodly number of people live and struggle to get by.

          Why write about Bishop today?   Because today, January 4th, a Saturday, I hope to pass through there again if my schedule allows.  If I do return, this time I will slow down a bit.  Maybe take some pictures.  Maybe just stop and look for a moment.   The place still haunts me.  If I make sure that it is real--real to me at least--then maybe its ghost will live in my memory a different way.  Not a dream, but a real place.

          Have you ever passed through a town that haunted you?   What is the strangest place you've ever been to?   Are you familiar with Bishop or the Appalachian region of West Virginia and Virginia?

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